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History of Tattoos - Ancient Ink

Author: Bob Matheson

Tattoos are a hot issue today. People get tattoos for lots of reasons. Millions of designs have been applied and continue to be created. But tattoos aren't a new fad. The history of tattoos is a novel, not a short story, and they've been here for a long time.

Oetzi The Iceman

Nobody can truly state just when the history of tattoos all started. The most ancient established tattoo was unearthed in 1991. It was found on a mummy referred to as Oetzi, an Iceman dated to be not less than 5300 years old. His tattoos are comprised of horizontal and vertical lines. There's some controversy as to why the tattoos are there.

Upon discovery of the remains, anthropologists have been able to do little but guess that this most primeval form of tattoo was for the purpose of warding off evil spirits, or that it may have been a particular kind of rite-of-passage.

The most prevalent belief is that the tattoos were applied for healing purposes. Oetzi's fifty-seven tattoos are located on a number of joints on the body. The idea is that the tattoos were made at the same time as a form of acupuncture was applied to relieve painful joints. In the present day, the same locations are used for acupuncture. Additional ideas range from social class and ritual markings to ethnic marks or simple preference.

Collectively on his spine and behind one knee and on one ankle, the Ice Man had about fifty-seven tattoos. Even though it's not possible to do more than guess as to the actual explanation for them, it certainly shows that tattoos should not be seen as unique to the current period.

Seeing that the Ice Man is the most primitive mummified human remains found in Europe, today's tattoo fans have the past on their side-- there's nothing "modern" about the history of tattoos.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians have one of the most acknowledged ancient societies for tattoos. Dating back to 2100 BC, discovered mummies have been found to be decorated in an assortment of tattoos. Women displayed tattoo styles that were restricted to females only. These designs were generally a sequence of lines and dots around the body. Tattoos in Egyptian society are believed to have been types of ritual markings.

Oriental Tattoos

In Japan, tattoos had been originally used on clay statues. These human shaped figures represented a deceased individual and have been found in the sepulchres of the individual in whose image they had been created. The tattoos had been embossed or painted on the faces of the figures. It is thought that these designs have religious or mystical meaning. The figures have been found in burying places that have been dated to 3,000 BC.

Japan's earliest documented tattoo is from 297 AD and has been shown to be for decorative purposes only. Tattoo artists were named the "Horis" in Japan. The Horis were acknowledged as masters and eventually created the full body suit tattoo.

Although Oriental symbols are very popular for tattoos in America, it is not widely recognized that both the Japanese and Chinese cultures have held a deep-seated opposition to the tradition of tattooing throughout history. With both societal and religious viewpoints in agreement that tattooing is a ritual that should not be practiced, it's nevertheless deemed to be a means of contaminating one's body. For the ancient Chinese, tattooing was employed as a penalty for criminal activity, placing such discernible marks on someone to forever brand him as having the status of a law breaker.

Tattoos have been found in history throughout the world. They have been shown to be a statement of an assortment of things such as social standing, religious conviction and frequently simply for decoration. Found on men and women alike, tattoos are discovered in every shape, size and color pattern imaginable. Regardless of whether they've been shown to be something that was once held sacred or they are for adornment only, tattoos have been around for ages and will continue to be here for ages to come.

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